Cost of living in Hong Kong: Your guide

TransferWise
31.08.17
4 minute read

If you fancy a life in Hong Kong, you're not alone. It's among the most densely populated places in the world, with an amazing seven million people in just 1,098 square kilometres of territory. It's also rated as the most expensive place in Asia to live. However, with the heady mix of east and west, and unparalleled career options, it's still a very desirable expat destination.

If you’re retiring, temporarily relocating or moving to Hong Kong for good, it’s helpful to have a picture of what life there will cost as an expat. Here’s a quick guide.

How expensive is Hong Kong in comparison to the USA, the UK, the EU and Australia?

The official currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD) or HK$ on currency exchanges).

You can find out the exact value of your money in HKD, using an online currency converter - but here’s a rough guide:

  • £1000 = HK$10,118
  • A$1000 = HK$5,931
  • €1000 = HK$8,878
  • $1000 = HK$7,811
Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Lunch for 2 (3 courses, mid range restaurant)Transportation (monthly pass)
Hong KongHK$16,551HK$350HK$460
New York City, USAHK$23,431HK$585HK$929
London, UKHK$17,023HK$556HK$1,333
Sydney, AustraliaHK$15,498HK$475HK$950

One major factor that adds expense for expats in Hong Kong, is the cost of converting cash to Hong Kong dollars from your home currency. Even if your bank says it offers fee-free money exchange, you can be sure they are taking a piece off by way of their inflated exchange rates. To get the best deal possible, you should use an exchange service like TransferWise, which applies the same mid-market rate you’ll find on Google. With a quick service, and low flat fees to transfer your cash, this can be a much better deal than relying on your home bank.

What are the general living expenses for Hong Kong? How much can you get by on?

Hong Kong is the 10th most expensive place on the planet to live. Rent pushes up cost of living significantly - but if you choose your new home wisely, you can still live an excellent life on an average salary.

Living expenses in Hong Kong (excluding rent)Hong Kong average cost
Single person, per monthHK$6,865
Single person, per yearHK$82,380
University student, per monthHK$5,298
4 person family, per monthHK$24,472
4 person family, per yearHK$293,664

What are the average salaries for Hong Kong?

Salary levels in Hong Kong are in general very good. Many roles offer top tier average salaries, and Hong Kong is also home to the best paid attorneys, QA engineers, product managers, hardware engineers and industrial designers on the planet.

Salary averages for Hong KongAverage annual salary
CashierHK$144,462
CopywriterHK$645,375
Financial analystHK$806,057
Graphic designerHK$334,529
Mobile developerHK$662,620
Product managerHK$1,056,037
ReceptionistHK$637,371
Software engineerHK$332,151
TeacherHK$465,920
Web developerHK$331,332

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Hong Kong?

The amount you pay in rent is a big driver of your overall cost of living. Central areas of Hong Kong have some of the most expensive rents in the world, with apartments typically very small. If you’re on a budget, consider life in the areas outside of the city centre.

Renting in Hong KongAverage monthly cost
One bedroom apartment (city centre)HK$16,551
One bedroom apartment (outside of city centre)HK$11,006
Three bedroom family home (city centre)HK$39,800
Three bedroom family home (outside of city centre)HK$23,426
InternetHK$205
Utilities (gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment)HK$1,371

What about healthcare and dental costs in Hong Kong?

The health infrastructure in Hong Kong is extremely good. Hong Kong citizens and permanent legal residents can access subsidised healthcare in the public system. However, the process can be slow going - so many people choose to purchase private healthcare instead.

Healthcare serviceAverage cost to you
Family doctor check-upHK$367
Cold medicine for 6 daysHK$65
Antibiotic prescriptionHK$80

How much is travel and transportation in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is densely populated and exceptionally difficult to navigate by car. Taking public transportation is the best option for most people living in the centre. It's good to know that a monthly pass here will set you back about half the amount it'll cost you in New York or Sydney - and only one third the price of a monthly ticket for London.

Transportation and vehicle prices for Hong KongAverage cost
Gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)HK$14.80
Monthly bus/transport passHK$460
Bus ticket, single useHK$10
Taxi tariff, 8km/5mile journeyHK$58
Toyota Corolla, newHK$217,343
VW Golf, newHK$213,000

How much does education cost?

Hong Kong has a large number of strong universities, and is rated as the 15th best city in the world for students. There are particular strengths among the courses offered - for example, Hong Kong University is first in the world for dentistry.

SchoolAverage cost
Preschool / kindergarten (monthly fee)HK$5,336
Private school for lower grades (annual)HK$95,231
University tuition (University of Hong Kong)HK$146,000 for non local students (HK$42,100 for local students)
University tuition (City University of Hong Kong)HK$120,000 annually

Wherever you choose to live in Hong Kong, you're going to find you have a pretty energising new home. There's the amazing culture and cuisine, and a vibrant mix of east and west you don't really find anywhere else. It's a hundred mile per hour sort of place, making Hong Kong a fantastic expat destination for a permanent move, or just to spend a year or two exploring somewhere new.

Good luck with your new life in Hong Kong!

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